Italy: University of Florence

  • eTwinning at the University of Florence

    1. eTwinning in the teacher training program

    The degree course in Primary School Education of the University of Florence (Italy) has joined the eTwinning Teacher Training Institutions project (TTI project ) in order to  raise prospective nursery and primary school teachers’ awareness of the processes and possibilities offered by eTwinning. This has been done by inserting eTwinning modules within the study programme and collaborating with other institutions  dealing with initial teacher education.


    The teaching practice component of the degree course consists of  24 credits (600 hours) achieved both on placements at nursery and primary schools and at university. This is done  with the support of a school and a university tutor.


    The teaching practice component of the degree course now includes eTwinning modules under the supervision of both school and university tutors. Students reach the eTwinning teaching practice objectives within specific teaching practice groups .


    By the end of year 2 (teaching practice 1) students are expected to:

    • know the aims and characteristics of the eTwinning project;
    • know some eTwinning best practices for nursery and primary school.

    By the end of year 3 (teaching practice 2) students are expected to:

    • know the aims and characteristics of the eTwinning project;
    • know some eTwinning best practices for nursery and primary school;
    • know the eTwinning platform and get familiar with the tools available.

    By the end of year 4 (teaching practice 3) students are expected to:

    • support the school tutor in using the eTwinning platform;
    • support the school tutor in planning and implementing an eTwinning project;
    • share experiences and collaborate on projects with other institutions that deal with the initial training of teachers and which are part of the eTwinning TTI Project.

    By the end of year 5 (teaching practice 4) students are expected to:

    • support the school tutor in using the eTwinning platform;
    • support  the school tutor in planning and implementing an eTwinning project;
    • document an eTwinning project for the dissemination of good practices.
    • share experiences and collaborate on projects with other institutions that deal with the initial training of teachers and which are part of the eTwinning TTI Project.

    During year 4 and 5 (teaching practice 3 and 4) students of the eTwinning training group have the opportunity to take part in specific activities within the eTwinning TTI Project TwinSpace. Students are invited by their university tutors or professors to share experiences and collaborate on joint projects in the TwinSpace.


    Students enter the TwinSpace even upon invitation by the school tutors with whom they carry out their teaching practice. In this case the take part in a real eTwinning project involving teachers and pupils of different  European nursery or primary schools.

    The University of Florence, with the support of the national eTwinning Unit and eTwinning Ambassadors,  is also engaged in supporting the school tutors by organising professional development seminars so that both tutors and students can get the best results from the teaching practice experience.

    2. Coding with LibreLogo: A Step back into the future

    2.1 Basic ideas

    This is a research initiative where we are seeking partners willing to discuss or, possibly, to collaborate on the following points:

    1. Making teachers aware of the existence of free software and of the opportunity of using it in educational contexts, as a real life laboratory of sharing and collaboration
    2. Fostering a critical discourse in order to create awareness about advantages and disadvantages about both the text-based and block-based coding systems
    3. Deepening the teachers competencies on the use of the text-based coding language LibreLogo as a tool to improve the understanding of geometry, math and science concepts as well as a tool for free art creation
    4. Becoming aware of what are the features that make a software or a method truly "democratic", in the sense that it is mostly affordable by people of any status and in any infrastructural scenario, even in cases of poor connectivity

    Those who want to deepen the concept can read the following draft: "A step back into the future - Recovering Papert's lesson using free software tools: text-based coding as a cross curricular teaching and learning tool to foster creative thinking skills in primary and secondary classrooms under the European cooperative umbrella action of eTwinning", which can be downloaded from the following link:

     

    The draft is to share a vision about coding and computational thinking at school seeking confrontation and, possibly, collaboration with other TTI members. We begin by putting in context the text-based versus block-based coding issue. Then we try to make a step back to the basic thoughts of Seymour Papert about how using computers to develop new skills and to acquire new knowledge entails cognitive aspects but feelings as well. The concept of free software is presented and how it resonates with the European Funding values, especially within educational contexts. Among the free software applications, we focus on the Office suite LibreOffice with emphasis on the multilingual features and the LibreLogo functions, an implementation of Seymour Papert’s Logo language which allows to build and embed vector graphic images in text documents. Finally, the role of our university and primary schoolteacher curriculum are described.

    Keywords: eTwinning, computational thinking, coding, Seymour Papert, Logo,
    LibreLogo, free software

     

    2.2 Two recent Webinars

    Recently, we have presented these ideas by means of two webinars, available online:

    and...

    2.3 Learning Event in September

    In the time period 17.09.2018 - 28.09.2018 there will be a learning event where we will experiment the concepts discussed in the two past webinars: Learning Event 2018: Coding with LibreLogo: A step back into the future

    Eventually, the Learning Event will give rise to a group devoted to the joint development of text coding practices and, possibly, to the comparison with blocks based activities.

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